Influences. Are They Your Friend or Foe?

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Behaviours and beliefs all come from some form of influence that we can trace back to a variety of things.

All of our thoughts, actions and results have a connection to these influences listed below. As we identify and become more aware of the ones that serve us versus those that don’t, we can change our results and choose differently. If you are in a current situation that is beginning to feel like “Groundhog Day” then you are likely being influenced by your previous experiences.

We tend to make decisions based on things that happened to us before and then adopt a set of rules and assumptions that might lead us to assume the same outcome will happen. Instead of being unconscious as to why we keep landing in the same predicament we can examine the patterns that are based on those assumptions and adjust our thinking and reactions accordingly to the current situation.

Ancestral Influences

Some of these patterns of behaviour come from someone else’s experience. Perhaps it is a parents or grandparents beliefs that have been passed on to us. We should ask ourselves if it’s even true for us today.

An example might be adopting a belief about money and the lack of it from a parent or grandparent who lived through the great depression and has passed on a “lack of money consciousness” to us.  Our ancestor’s experiences are held in the dark recesses of our minds, the sub-conscious, even if we are unaware of the influence they have over us today.

Influences from Past Experiences 

It could be that in your past you had people undervalue your contribution. After this happens a few times you might have made an unconscious decision that you have little or no value.  As a result of that you could potentially have difficulty charging fees or demanding a salary that is worthy of you.

It’s our beliefs about things that have happened to us in the past that pushes us to make the same choices and of course they lead to the same results – good or bad.

If you become self-aware and begin to examine and explore those specific influences you may discover what these beliefs are rooted to, then adjust how you interpret what happened and make a different choice this time.  Even experiences we’ve long forgotten, through our subconscious beliefs have a major influence on our choices years later.

Environmental Influences

When you’re in unfamiliar surroundings or situations, you may feel vulnerable and uncertain. Your confidence might be low in this environment causing you to make no decision at all or possibly make very limited ones.

If you’re in a familiar environment, you feel more comfortable, in control and empowered. So for example, if you’re in a unfamiliar environment (i.e: a job where you don’t know your role and what to do and you feel out of your element), this situation can cause stress, loss of focus, lack of confidence, less productivity.  A great exercise might be to find creative ways to become familiar with the new and unfamiliar. Ask for more direction and support and don’t try to fake knowing something you don’t. Learn what you need to know and figure out your best strengths within this new environment.

This will help you overcome the challenge of something new. Environment can also impact us in the physical sense (i.e: being in the great outdoors) can create feelings of peace and relaxation, just as being stuck in an office cubicle can make some people feel imprisoned, isolated or even tired.

Sense Memory Influences

Actors are very familiar with the power of the senses to generate strong emotions. What you see, touch, taste, hear or smell in any environment can influence how you perceive things and how you feel emotionally. Sensory feedback bombards us constantly and can call up the feelings associated with those past experiences without you even being aware of the sensorial triggers.

Maybe a boss or colleague criticizes you or someone yells at you and a whole stream of feelings can be unleashed and they are not even related to what just happened. The feelings are connected to the past experience of someone perhaps rejecting you or humiliating you and making you feel that way even though the current situation is completely different. All we ever need to do is become aware of those triggers and then we can find ways around them.

It could be the smell of moth balls brings you back to a sense of comfort because you remember playing hide and seek and having a blast in that closet as a kid.  Or the recollection of driving a motorcycle and feeling the whoosh and excitement of speed and the smell of the leather jacket your sweetheart wore. All of this can influence your emotional state. If you want to test this theory try jumping up and down, stamping your feet and yelling and you will start having feelings that resemble anger or frustration.

People and Peer Pressure Influences

Whether it’s through peer pressures, feeling connected or disconnected with a group of people you live with or work around; being around certain people can cause you to make choices to meet acceptance.  These choices may not be the right avenue but no one ever wants to feel left out. We can adapt or compromise and sometimes it goes against our better judgment to do this.  Peer competition and support can do the opposite. It may help you to take on something new and exciting, creating a feeling that makes you feel like you’ve found your “tribe” as it were.

Being competitive in a good way – one that leads you to perform better. Both good and bad experiences with people can empower you or flatten you. So it is of vital importance to choose the people to surround yourself with who help you to feel the best you can be. No one has ever succeeded without some strong mentorship, or role model that helped them grow or become inspired to do better. Healthy relationships with family and significant people in our lives will often lead to healthy friends and work mates as well.

Media Influences

Whatever we read whether on the Internet, hear on TV or from any news sources, magazines and books can influence our thoughts and our future choices.  If we feel the economy is in a downward spiral and unemployment is on the rise it can make us feel fearful and doubt ourselves and perhaps limit some of our choices. Or maybe you watch an inspirational movie and feel your life is mundane in comparison and it forces you to examine some of the decisions you made and shake things up a bit. You might hear/read a great story, at a seminar or in a book, and it propels you to take a leap of faith and try something new.

Sometimes it is the stories of others accomplishments that give us confidence to change our story. Maybe you hear something in a song lyric that affects you and calls you to travel to a distant land or open your heart up to someone you might never have considered before. The information doesn’t even have to be accurate but it can still infect you with hope or dread all the same.

Health Influences

When you feel sick, tired, weak, burnt out or in physical pain whether it’s physical or emotional, you are not in the best frame of mind to make good choices. You could be so focused on how badly you feel or how you have no energy that you can’t determine your real options. So instead you make choices that are not in your best interest and justify this because you don’t feel good. Then it becomes a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. Allowing us to create the healthiest body and mind- improving it daily through exercise, diet and constant focus on advancement will lead to greater results.

Positive IN means Positive OUT and your associates and friends will notice this! This positive focus is what attracts more health and energy and continues to build and strengthen your resolve to overcome other challenges. We all know people who have overcome physical limitations or emotional ones and gone on to become inspirations for others.  Our own Rick Hanson and Terry Fox did that in spades!

Mental, Emotional Health Influences

This includes your general emotional state, overall, but also specific states like depression, anger, etc. If you’re feeling depressed and stressed out, then making rational decisions isn’t likely to happen. Being in a funk can suck all the energy and enthusiasm out of you.  You’re constantly being influenced by what goes on in your head and what’s happening around you. Being aware of how you are influenced can help you redirect the thoughts that lead to different emotions and actions that create different results.

Consider the effects of your choices in the past by first looking at the causes or influences that impacted you, then re-framing them to suit the outcomes you are after. Examples could be changing your affirmations so that they include empowering thoughts such as “I am a magnet for great opportunities”, or “I am so grateful for the amazing friends I have in my life”. “ I am improving my skills and confidence every day. ” I’m achieving more tangible results with the changes I’m implementing daily.”

Embracing and understanding all of the influences that impact us daily will allow us to either move forward with confidence or hold us back with paralyzing fear. It’s always our choice which influences we will give energy to and which ones we discard because they are no longer serving us today.

I love this quote about embracing our fears:
“What holds us back in life is the invisible architecture of fear. It keeps us in our comfort zones, which are, in truth, the least safe places in which to live. Indeed, the greatest risk in life is taking no risks. But every time we do that which we fear, we take back the power that fear has stolen from us for on the other side of our fears lives our strength. Every time we step into the discomfort of growth and progress, we become more free. The more fears we walk through, the more power we reclaim. In this way, we grow both fearless and powerful, and thus are able to live the lives of our dreams.” ~ 
Robin Sharma, The Secret Letters of the Monk who Sold his Ferrari

So are influencers your friend or foe? It is really up to you.  Share your thoughts… I’d love to hear from you!

About the author 

Deborah MacDonald

After almost 25 years as an entrepreneur, I continue to grow my business, my passive income streams and my wealth. And now I mentor others on their wealth journeys by teaching them how to fund their own freedom lifestyle.

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